Asked what The Magnificent Eleven is about, actor Robert Vaughn boiled it down to: “Dancing footie players, nude.” This film is a little more than that, but it does put that nudie footie player thing front and center quite a bit. Or front and to the side. Or mostly, flabby rear end in the clubhouse shower, the locker room, the team bus, the pitch… you get the idea.
The silly thing is that if you put the nudity aside, the story is sort of clever. A middle-aged Sunday league team named Cowboys hasn’t scored a goal all season, and it doesn’t have the money to finish the last 2 games. As in The Full Monty, most of the players are long-time unemployed. Dave (Keith Allen) finagles the Taj Tandoori curry house into sponsoring them. But the team gets involved in the restaurant’s own problems: bad cooking and protection money. American Bob’s thugs will burn the place down if they don’t collect. Saving the restaurant is where The Magnificent Seven theme ties in.
Directory Jeremy Wooding is becoming known for low-budget independent movies that “deliver more bang for the buck” than you would expect. To accomplish that, he often recycles bits from classic movies, so that the viewer subconsciously associates the scene with an iconic character or situation…saves time, filming, and thinking.
Paul Barber’s presence reminds one of The Full Monty. Robert Vaughn at ~80 years old is the last surviving star of the original Magnificent Seven. Here, his bad hombre American Bob resembles the pig-feeding Brick Top in Snatch. He ties a noose around a player’s neck (Gary Mavers) and strings him up on the goal’s crossbar, leaving him to balance on a soccer ball to keep from strangling (The Good The Bad and The Ugly). The link to Magnificent Seven is so weak though, that I forgot it even existed until the end of the movie, when they call forth the movie title and then dance to its iconic music in a Bollywood finale.
Confusing? It’s not really. But there are actually many more sub-plots, as Wooding likes to craft stories of relationships and characters. The overall result is entertaining even if farcical, and the acting is excellent. I’ve liked Sean Pertwee since Soldier, and I didn’t realize his father had played Dr Who.
If the overall tone of this movie were less sexist, and if the nudity were not so gratuitous, I would be more enthusiastic overall. If only Wooding had applied what he learned about revealing the monster in a horror movie: sometimes less is more.
The soccer was filmed at London’s Hackney Marshes. I don’t quite understand how clubhouses work in England; we don’t have those in the USA — we’re lucky to have a port-a-potty near a soccer field. It seemed a terrible shame to burn a clubhouse down.
According to one review, Wooding put some good extras on the DVD; it seems to be one of his techniques to motivate viewers to buy it. I watched this film on Amazon Prime, which recently added a bunch of soccer movies I had never heard of. These days, I’ve noticed that I’m watching Amazon Prime 5x more often than Netflix and Uverse On-Demand combined.
The Magnificent Eleven misuses one of my favorite classic movies, but if you like nudie football players, this film is your cup of tea.
Update: Sadly, Robert Vaughn passed away on Nov-11-2016, less than a month after I posted this. Thank you, Robert Vaughn, for the entertainment you brought to our lives. My best friend in high school would come to my house so we could watch “The Man from UNCLE”, and “The Magnificent Seven” is one of my favorite films.
5 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 5